March 17, 2010 / 6:27 PM / 10 years ago

Cybersecurity bill introduced in Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new version of a cybersecurity bill was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday that may eliminate some opposition to the measure from the tech industry.

Bloggers Lisa Walker, 32, of Cambridge, Massachusetts (L), and Tom Gerace, 37, of Boston, Massachusetts sit in front of computers while watching the Republican Debate from a bar in Manchester, New Hampshire in this January 5, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi/Files

The bill would give the president a Senate-confirmed national security advisor to lead “all cybersecurity matters,” whether in defense or civilian areas, according to a summary of the bill.

Cybersecurity touches just about every aspect of the United States, from military espionage and potential cyber sabotage of U.S. infrastructure to cyber bank thefts and loss of intellectual property.

The new draft put out by Senators John Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe reflects consultation with industry groups and some changes to lessen tech industry opposition, said James Lewis, a technology expert with the think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The bill, which has gone through several drafts, had been stiffly opposed because, among other things, it allowed the president to shut down the Internet if needed for national security. It also required certification of cyber professionals.

One major change to the bill is that the president would no longer have the power to shut down the Internet unilaterally but would have to work with industry to draw up plans in the event of a national emergency.

“They’ve said they’ll call industry. They’ve bent over backwards to make people feel better about that,” said Lewis.

One hot button issue that remains is a requirement that cybersecurity professionals be certified, something the tech industry had fought.

Among the new provisions, the bill would require a process to determine which portions of the U.S. economy really are critical infrastructure, and give key private sector officials security clearances so they would have access to classified threat information, according to the bill’s summary.

A mark-up of the measure has been set for next week.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Richard Chang

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